All your babies are belong to us

What do you do when the agents of the Nanny State behave like bureaucratic thugs and mob bosses? A tip o’ the hat to the Home School Legal Defense Association for spreading the word about this incident.

Imagine giving birth in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Then after you question some shots the hospital wants to give the baby, you are told that you are under investigation and you can’t see your baby.

. . .

According to an attorney representing the family, Jodi Ferris, the mother, was told conflicting reports about the health of her baby. When she questioned shots the nurses gave and wanted to give, a social worker showed up in her hospital room, “announcing she was there to conduct an investigation.”

The family attorney’s statement continues by stating when Ferris asked about the allegations, the social worker replied: “Since you’re not going to cooperate, I’ll just call the police and we can take custody of the baby.”

Ferris says that’s exactly what they did, they took her baby.

. . .

Hershey Medical Center released a statement Thursday stating, “the version of what occurred at the time as presented by the Ferrises’ attorney is inaccurate and incomplete.”

There’s more at the link.

I note that despite the hospital’s assertions, they have not denied that they did what Mrs. Ferris alleges was done to the baby, or to her. They simply maintain that they acted appropriately under the circumstances. I can only say that if anyone, or any institution, treated my wife or my child in that way, without both parents’ prior knowledge and approval, the perpetrators wouldn’t have to worry about a civil lawsuit, because I’d already have taken rather more personal and direct action against them! I agree with an opinion piece in the Minot Daily News:

I would hope this isn’t typical of social service investigations, but I’ve heard enough horror stories to think it’s not unheard of either.

I would speculate that Scott and Jodi Ferris, who home school their older children, were already on the social worker’s and the nurses’ radar before mother and daughter were wheeled into the hospital. Many doctors look askance at women who plan to give birth at home and use a midwife instead of a OBGYN and think it puts the baby at risk of death or injury. The Ferrises may have been known to hospital staff already for their beliefs in home births and use of a midwife, particularly since they have older children. I wonder if a nurse on the maternity ward was just waiting for an opportunity to report this family.

A number of social workers are also suspicious of home schoolers. Parents are legally permitted to refuse vaccines for a child for reasons of religious belief and/or personal conviction in all but two states; Pennsylvania law explicitly permits parents to refuse the Vitamin K and Hepatitis B injections on religious grounds. However, doctors and social workers both tend to frown on parents who question vaccinations, despite that law.

In short, Scott and Jodi Ferris are apparently on the fringe, which left them vulnerable to this sort of harassment by doctors and social workers and that isn’t acceptable.

Again, more at the link.

I’m glad to see that Mr. and Mrs. Ferris are taking this matter to court. Too many people don’t fight back against abuses of power like this. The only way we can keep the minions of Big Brother under control is to slap them down from time to time. Sometimes it takes a lawsuit (or even more robust measures) to do that.



  1. We were founded on the notion of self-reliance. Look at us now. It is a dirty word, like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Welcome to the arena, Mr. and Mrs. Ferris!

  2. Those horror stories are true. I have two sets of friends who went through the nightmare of being in the sights of 'family services'.

    I personally have dealt with a bad doctor who threatened to send the police and an ambulance to my home on my wife's due-date to force her into the hospital. She would continually mis-measure the size of the baby, and spout incorrect information as fact. We finally told her she was fired.

    We happened to bump into her (and her staff) at the local clinic when I brought my newborn in for a checkup. The staff said "Wow–she is so cute! How old is she?" To which I replied "About 90 minutes". They *freaked*. I wouldn't let that bad doctor check the baby out, but a different doctor did and gave her a clean bill of health.

    Two of my three children have been born at home with no medical supervision–no doctors, no nurses, and no mid-wives. Just my wife and I. And they are all fine. We'll have a fourth before the end of the year.

    Frequently, I think doctors act like government agencies–they try to make a bigger deal out of things to try and justify the paycheck/insurance/whatever.

    The truth is that if we crawled out of the sea, we wouldn't have evolved as a species if childbirth was so risky.

    And if (as I believe) we were put here by God–well, we still wouldn't have made it all this way if it were so risky.

    Keep up the great blogging Peter!


  3. Well there's a reason women in sub-saharan africa have a 1-in-16 maternal death rate(and that's just the mother, the numbers for the babies is worse, sometimes 1-in-10), while it's 1-in-4000 or better in the developed world.

    But ultimately it's your choice, and the government has no business medling in it. Personally though, I'd prefer if my girlfriend/wife delivered in a hospital, in case of complications.

  4. Mikael: It seems like you're saying that the lack of 'proper' medical facilities in Africa is the reason for all those deaths.

    I think you're forgetting to factor in a lot of other stuff.

    Exaggerating a bit to show the point:

    * I have a house, not a mud hut

    * Delivery conditions will probably be much cleaner

    * I have ready access to a nearly limitless supply of fresh water, blankets, antiseptics and other things that promote general health

    * My home is not over-crowded with a bunch of sick and/or diseased people that could cause complications with the delivery

    * Where I live, there aren't many creatures that can bite and kill you in a matter of minutes, nor are there disease-spreading rats

    Lastly–if there were complications in delivery, it's a 15 minute trip in the car for me to reach a hospital–or a ~10 minute wait for competent EMS services.

    There are environmental and situational advantages afforded to us simply by being born in a 'first world country'. One small part of that is a hospital. A large part of that is not a hospital.

  5. Oh Aaron, no doubt such things matter. But even if you look at developed world figures, there are clues. The USA is pretty much the only western country where people regularly choose ro give birth at home(I'm sure the odd anomally happens elsewhere).

    The latest figure I found for the USA is 16.6 per 100,000 births for 2008(compared to 11.5 1990, US figures are rising). Compared to oh say sweden because it's familiar to me, and I know everyone here goes to a hospital for delivery if they can: 4.6 per 100,000.

    In fact the USA is behind all of traditionally western europe, and a lot of east european countries have passed it as well. On a worldwide(181 countries) list, the USA ranks 39. After such shining examples as Qatar, Bosnia, and Albania, to name some. (Italy tops the list with 3.9 per 100,000 btw).

  6. Mikael: While I ultimately agree with your position, you should be made aware that those statistics are misleading due to differences in the way they are collected.

    In the USA, a delivery is considered a "live birth" if the infant takes even one breath. In other locations (I do not have a reference handy) deliveries are considered stillbirths if the child dies even three days later.

    Since the "infant mortality rate" only counts children who were live births and subsequently died, you can see how this would affect the corresponding statistics.

  7. I wonder if the thing to learn from this is that when someone threatens to call the cops. That is exactly what the person who has been threatened should do.
    It is amazing how many people get upset over the little things that don't happen the way they believe should happen. And then instead of dealing with reality, try to bully the situation into their little fantasy.

  8. Actually that wasn't infant mortality rates, that was MOTHER mortality rates, women dying in childbirth or from complications shortly after. Infant mortality rates are generally higher.

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